Liquor license OK’ed after problems explained

February 8, 2008
By

DAVID TABER

STONY BROOK STATION AREA—Despite concerns that the proposed manager of record for a newly opened liquor store on Boylston Street misrepresented his record at the January Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Public Service Committee meeting, the committee this week reaffirmed approval of the liquor license transfer.

Christos Stamatos has been managing Stony Brook Wine and Liquors in all but name since late last year under an agreement with the former proprietor. In January, a few weeks after it opened, he told the committee that his previous experience as a manager at the Breezeway Café on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury qualifies him to manage a liquor store. When asked if there had been any incidents at the Breezeway, he told the committee, “Nothing out of the ordinary” had occurred.

When committee chair and JPNC member Michael Reiskind checked the records, however, alarm bells went off.

“We have since learned that in the year 2006, [the Breezeway] had six violations…and in 2005 there were six incidents. We are now asking them to come back and review this,” Reiskind said at the Jan. 26 meeting of the JPNC.

The Gazette’s review of the city Licensing Board’s file on the Breezeway confirmed Reiskind’s claim. Six incidents of alleged assault and battery, including at least two employee-on-patron assaults, two alleged incidents of serving alcohol to minors and various other infractions were listed.

Christos Stamatos is related to, but is not the same person as, Christ Stamatos, who owns Century 21 Pondside Realty and the vacant property at 613-619 Centre St.

Christ Stamatos, who is acting as spokesperson for the Stamatos family in the matter, told the Gazette the incidents were mostly related to “hip hop and R&B nights” the club hosted. The events have since been discontinued, he said.

The Breezeway is located in “one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city,” he said.

“Whatever’s going on at the Breezeway is normal stuff going on at a bar in the area no matter who owns it. It’s day and night what’s going on here and what’s going on there,” he said.

He recommended that the Gazette look at the record of Paddy’s, a bar down the street from the Breezeway. Paddy’s had four incidents in its record, including an alleged shooting and an alleged employee-on-patron assault and battery on March 7, 2005. More than two years later, the tavern was cited for allowing a disorderly crowd to congregate outside, and early this year it was caught up in a city-wide sweep of sprinkler-system violators.

While the Breezeway has had more incidents, “We’ve had no shootings or stabbings. That’s the main thing you look at,” Christ Stamatos told the Gazette.

Reiskind told the Gazette the Public Service Committee was satisfied with the Stamatoses’ responses when they appeared before the committee on Feb. 5.

“They did not have any serious incidents before the [hip hop and R&B] theme nights started,” he said, and there have been no incidents at the Breezeway since the management was put on a one-month suspension last May. That suspension was suspended, meaning it will only be imposed if there are any serious violations between now and May 2008, according to the Licensing Board.

The committee asked that Christos Stamatos get involved with the Stony Brook Station area’s neighborhood crime watch, and particularly keep an eye out for drug dealing around the station, Reiskind said.

It was also recommended that the package store supply its employees with uniforms, so they are easy to identify on the street outside the store.

“They have cameras, so they can keep an eye out for hangers-on and hangers-about,” Reiskind said.

The committee will follow up with the Stamatoses in six months to see how things are going, he said.

Christ Stamatos also told the committee he plans to clean up graffiti at 617-619 Centre St., Reiskind said. That property has been vacant since a 2006 arson.